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My Faith: Raising religious (but not too religious) children
Laurel Synder is raising her two sons Jewish, but not kosher.
April 13th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Faith: Raising religious (but not too religious) children

Editor's noteLaurel Snyder is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, a poet and author of many books for children. Follow her on Twitter at @laurelsnyder.

By Laurel Snyder, Special to CNN

(CNN) – A few years ago I was invited to my local Jewish Community Center to do a reading of my picture book “Baxter, the Pig Who Wanted to Be Kosher.” It was going to be a child-friendly event, so I took my kids along.

Now, “Baxter” isn’t really a book about being kosher. It’s about wanting to be accepted into a community. But I always like to make sure my listeners know what the word kosher means before I read it, since the joke at the center of the book depends on that. So as usual I asked the Jewish Community Center crowd if they could define the word.

Before anyone else could answer, my own son Mose, who was 5 at the time, jumped up and shouted out, “I know! I know! Kosher is us! We’re kosher!” Then he sat back down again, beaming proudly.

And I might have been proud too. Only, you see, we’re not kosher.

On the drive home I tried to figure out what to say to Mose about his mix-up. I wanted him to know what it means to be kosher, to live by a rigid religious dietary code, day in and day out. But I also needed him to understand that we’re not.

How could I show respect for this part of our Jewish tradition while also suggesting that it doesn’t seem relevant in our own household? Should I just blame it on my own parents, who didn’t raise me that way?

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

It’s not easy to explain something to a kid when you haven’t yet figured it out for yourself. One of the most helpful/terrible things about having children is that they require us to think things out explicitly. That often means they make us face the very things we’ve been avoiding.

Sometimes, as a result, kids challenge us to become more mindful or observant. I hadn’t been a member of a synagogue for years when I became a mom. I hadn’t hosted a Passover Seder or found the time to light Shabbat candles.

Even though I worked for a Jewish agency and wrote about religion professionally, when it came to my home life I was almost completely unobservant. Judaism was something I thought about more intellectually than personally. Religion was an interesting idea more than a belief system.

Now I light candles each week and say the blessings. I belong to a havurah – a cohort of local Jewish friends who get together for monthly potluck dinners – and also a synagogue.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

Because there’s something about having kids that makes me want to be a better version of my Jewish self. I want something special to pass on to them. Something more than “You’re Jewish because I’m Jewish.”

But sometimes the opposite is true. Sometimes my kids help me recognize the limits of my faith.

In truth, I do not keep kosher and I don’t really want to. My husband is not Jewish, though we’re raising our family to be. So, yeah, we eat tacos for Shabbat dinner most weeks and usually skip Friday night services.

This is the truth and I have to own it. I can only shift my life around so much without feeling inauthentic. Lying to my kids about my religious life is no way to model the value of faith.

So when, after the “Baxter”/kosher fiasco, I set out to write my new picture book, “Good night, laila tov” (laila tov means “good night” in Hebrew), I wanted to paint an honest portrait of my largely secular household.

I wanted my kids to recognize the family in my story as Jewish, but also as, well, like us. Which is to say, not exactly kosher.

On some level I was reacting to the fact that most of the Jewish picture books in my home feel like they’re about someone else. They’re usually set in a Polish village a century ago, or on the Lower East Side of New York City, where mothers cook and fathers pray.

I wanted “Good night, laila tov” to be a sort of lowest common denominator. Contemporary and universal. It’s not about Jewish history, and it doesn’t have a single rabbi in it. It won’t teach you new Hebrew words or show you how to say a certain prayer.

It’s just a story about a Jewish American family going camping, experiencing nature, love, work and rest. In writing it I hoped to capture something typical, something natural, something simple.

And it does present, to my mind, Jewish values: Nature is spiritual, and takes us beyond ourselves. Time spent with family is sacred.

The family in the book plants trees and picks up their campsite, because caring for the earth is part of Judaism, I think. Along with caring for each other.

But as I wrote, I found myself a little afraid that, in attempting to write a picture book for everyone, I was letting the Jewish particularity go. Aren’t family nature, and environmentalism tenets of faith beyond the Jewish world, in every religion?

What did it say about me, my choices, my household, that the Jewish life I was choosing to depict looked like it could be any household at all?

Then I come back around to that moment with Mose, that moment of realizing I’d somehow misled him. Because whatever I’m unsure of, whatever I don’t know about faith, I do know this: if it isn’t honest, it doesn’t count.

The purpose of faith, as I understand it, is to infuse life with greater meaning. To make it more real. Not to dress it up. Not to pretend.

My kids and I are on a journey together. We’re setting out for parts unknown.

And while we may find ourselves changing as we trek along, there is a sacred quality in simply being who we are today. Of stopping on the trail and taking a deep breath. It’s enough, I think, to be exactly who we are, kosher or not.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Laurel Snyder.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Judaism

soundoff (3,114 Responses)
  1. Muneef

    The story of Prophet Jesus with the Children of Israel;

    http://www.islamawareness.net/Prophets/isa.html

    To read all the stories of Prophets of GOD as per the Holy Quran from Adam down to Muhammed (Pbuh) ;

    http://www.islamawareness.net/Prophets/

    April 14, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @Muneef

      I really missed you. Where have you been for such a long time?

      Maybe the following will attract you inclined attention:

      @AtheistSteve

      "Relative or not...it makes no difference. My father could have killed people for a hobby but that doesn't make me guilty for his crimes or likely to follow in his footsteps. We are all accountable to others for our own actions alone." you said.

      Intentionally or not you quoted the Bible. Of course, you are right, we are accountable for our own actions alone.

      However, my remarks were not about the concrete sins, but about the inclination to sin.

      It seems that history gets repeated in Germany. First we murdered the Jews and now we become nervous on the Muslims. In that connection it means nothing that there is a great difference between Islam and Judaism.

      The German media, government, economy and others try to establish a moderated Islam, which has not much to do with the literal doctrine of the Koran. The big cities of Germany get overcrowded with Muslims. Reason: Merkel and other fools need them as cheap labourers for their car factories. Hence, they try to find a way to integrate them in German society, which is a moderated Islam. However, the ordinary people cannot endure all the multi-tudes of Muslim Arabs, Muslim Turks and the like (Munich is a Bavarian Islamabad).

      Gradually the Germans become angry on the Muslim foreigners and it is only a matter ot time, when the popular anger explodes inflamed by a second Hitler.

      The problem of the ordinary Germans is that they have nearly no Christian education. The mainline churches of Germany tell them absolute nonsense.

      I myself don't like the Islamic doctrine, I even condemn it, but I don't hate the Muslim human beings. On the contrary I love every Muslim, because he has got the full human dignity. Christ died also for the Muslims.

      The problem is that Judaism and Islam are indeed false religions, but this gives us no right to hate these people. We are obliged to love our fellow human beings, independent from their (false) belief.

      Yet a lousy dictator could use the fact of the falseness of Islam to stir up hatred.

      But the current democratic German politicans are yet guilty, because they misjudge the situation. They fill the German big cities with foreigners, which they abuse as human robots in their car factories and at building sites, ignoring the wrath of the ordinary Germans, which is about to increase again.

      No you have seen, how the German sin works.

      April 14, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Muneef

      Rainer B.

      That's very nice of you to miss me and really find your post some how fair and very understanding to the situation and the differences of Muslims from each nation...and how much the Islamic Clerics have driven them away from the original context of the Holy Quran as a peaceful religion with their fatwas..
      The only thing is that the original versions of religions that came with the true Torah,Injil and Quran are not false but the present one's could be called false... You can say the Clerics have played a major role in manipulating the true message of GOD...
      Kindly refer to the links;

      http://www.injil.org/Kalimatullah/revelations.html

      http://wikiislam.net/wiki/Corruption_of_Previous_Scriptures_(Qur'an_2:79) 

      April 14, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • Muneef

      Rainer B.
      Another thing if you read the post above before your post taking the link of the stories of the prophets you will understand what was the true message from the time of Adam to the time of the seal of prophets Muhammed (pbuh)....believing in same will solve all the issues of misunderstandings between all previous religions with the Quran..

      April 14, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • Reality

      Poor Muneef as he continues suffering from the hallucinations of one Mohammed. Again we have a quick cure for him and his sister and brother Muslims:

      From the studies of Armstrong, Rushdie, Hirsi Ali, Richardson and Bayhaqi----–

      The Five Steps To Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic Myths:

      ( –The Steps take less than two minutes to finish- simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace and rationality to over one billion lost souls- Priceless!!!)

      Are you ready?

      Using "The 77 Branches of Islamic "faith" a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true "faith" (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings." i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.

      The First Five of the 77 Branches:

      "1. Belief in Allah"

      aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your self-cleansing neurons.

      "2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence."

      Evolution and the Big Bang or the "Gi-b G-nab" (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the "akas" for Allah should be included if you continue to be a "crea-tionist".

      "3. To believe in the existence of angels."

      A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/de-vils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No "pretty/ug-ly wingy thingies" ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as f–airies and "tin–ker be-lls". Modern de-vils are classified as the de-mons of the de-mented.

      "4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore."

      Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.

      Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the un-educated masses in line. Today we call them for-tune tellers.

      Prophecies are also invali-dated by the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.

      "5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings
      be upon him) alone."

      Mohammed spent thirty days "fasting" (the Ramadan legend) in a hot cave before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via a "pretty wingy thingy". Common sense demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed's "fast, hunger-driven" hallu-cinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.

      Walk these Five Steps and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!

      Unfortunately, there are not many Muslim commentators/readers on this blog so the "two-minute" cure is not getting to those who need it. If you have a Muslim friend, send him a copy and help save the world.

      Analogous steps are available at your request for deprogramming the myths of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Paganism..

      April 14, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
    • Muneef

      Hi,hello Reality...don't worry I missed you too.

      April 15, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  2. Reality

    An update on Judaism:

    ONLY FOR THE NEWCOMERS:

    origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.

    New Torah For Modern Minds

    “Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

    Such startling propositions - the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years - have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity - until now.

    The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.

    The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel - not one shard of pottery."

    April 14, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Kadu

      WOW!!! Where have you been??? I don't know how we survived all this years without your "wisdom".... NOT!!!!

      April 15, 2012 at 10:09 am |
  3. Rainer Braendlein

    @AtheistSteve

    This is, as if you would say I would not be related to my parents and grandparents.

    Of course, have not committed their concrete sins, but I have the same predisposition like they.

    April 14, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      The village in Northern Bavaria (Bavaria is the Catholic hinterland of Germany, whereby in Northern Bavaria you will find some evangelic places), where I come from, even has got an age-old Jewish cemetery.

      However, I have never met a Jew there. Why?

      April 14, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Relative or not...it makes no difference. My father could have killed people for a hobby but that doesn't make me guilty for his crimes or likely to follow in his footsteps. We are all accountable to others for our own actions alone. For the same reasons Jesus can't be held accountable for the sins of man or be able to pay the price for them either.Substi.tutional atonement is a flaw and a moral injustice. The result is an entirely warped sense of self-worth or more accurately self-loathing. God is credited with success rather than the individual who strove to overcome adversity and blame for failure is laid at the feet of a fallen state of man. In either case responsibility is deferred from yourself to forces beyond your control. Clearly a weakness..a scapegoating if you will.
      And as for not seeing Jews living around areas where their ancestors were tortured is no more surprising than Pagans avoiding Salem. Intolerance or the perceptions thereof persist.

      April 14, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • sam stone

      Really, Rainy? You have the same predisposition for intolerance as your ancestors? Who would have thought that?

      April 14, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @AtheistSteve (you will wonder how sin works)

      "Relative or not...it makes no difference. My father could have killed people for a hobby but that doesn't make me guilty for his crimes or likely to follow in his footsteps. We are all accountable to others for our own actions alone." you said.

      Intentionally or not you quoted the Bible. Of course, you are right, we are accountable for our own actions alone.

      However, my remarks were not about the concrete sins, but about the inclination to sin.

      It seems that history gets repeated in Germany. First we murdered the Jews and now we become nervous on the Muslims. In that connection it means nothing that there is a great difference between Islam and Judaism.

      The German media, government, economy and others try to establish a moderated Islam, which has not much to do with the literal doctrine of the Koran. The big cities of Germany get overcrowded with Muslims. Reason: Merkel and other fools need them as cheap labourers for their car factories. Hence, they try to find a way to integrate them in German society, which is a moderated Islam. However, the ordinary people cannot endure all the multi-tudes of Muslim Arabs, Muslim Turks and the like (Munich is a Bavarian Islamabad).

      Gradually the Germans become angry on the Muslim foreigners and it is only a matter ot time, when the popular anger explodes inflamed by a second Hitler.

      The problem of the ordinary Germans is that they have nearly no Christian education. The mainline churches of Germany tell them absolute nonsense.

      I myself don't like the Islamic doctrine, I even condemn it, but I don't hate the Muslim human beings. On the contrary I love every Muslim, because he has got the full human dignity. Christ died also for the Muslims.

      The problem is that Judaism and Islam are indeed false religions, but this gives us no right to hate these people. We are obliged to love our fellow human beings, independent from their (false) belief.

      Yet a lousy dictator could use the fact of the falseness of Islam to stir up hatred.

      But the current democratic German politicans are yet guilty, because they misjudge the situation. They fill the German big cities with foreigners, which they abuse as human robots in their car factories and at building sites, ignoring the wrath of the ordinary Germans, which is about to increase again.

      No you have seen, how the German sin works.

      April 14, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  4. Rainer Braendlein

    All manmade religions have proved, prove and will ever prove that man is sinful. However, dear Jew, Muslim, Anabaptist, Catholic and the like it is still a time of GRACE. Join the eternal God's Passover Lamb Jesus Christ right now and get released by Christ.

    Premise:

    As I am a German I first want to apologize for all the crimes we (the Germans) have committed against the Jews. I regret deeply.

    The blood of the people, which have committed these crimes flows in my veins. I only can continue to live, because God gave his precious Passover Lamb for me. Even the worst people on earth can get saved by God's Lamb.

    Actual comment:

    The Jewish prophet John the Baptist once said:

    29 The next day John seeth Jesus (a Jewish carpenter) coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. 30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. 31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. 32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. 33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.

    Jesus and John the Baptist fullfilled Ezekiel 36: 24-28:

    24 For I will take you (Israel) from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. 25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them . 28 And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.

    Dear Jew, Catholic, Anabaptist, Muslim, Mormon, etc. join God's Passover Lamb Jesus Christ and he will purify you perfectly.

    The gospel: God, the Father, delivered God, the Son (God's Lamb), for our sins and raised him from the dead for our justification.

    Simply believe that and get baptized (or remember your infant baptism, if you are yet baptized). At baptism your dirty, impure old man of sin dies (you die for the sin) and you resurrect to a new life in Christ. Your heart gets circu-mcised and you receive Jahve's Spirit. It is not only that God forgives you, but he also makes you a new creature (rebirth by Water and Spirit), which is able to live a life of divine love. By the love of the Spirit of God you fullfill the law of the Torah. If The Divine Legislator lives in you, how shall you break the law anymore?

    Dear Jews, God gave you the law of the Torah, so that you might realize your sinfulness and that you need a redeemer. When at last will you accept the saviour, which the God of Israel has sent to you?

    Dear Jews, you actually don't have a problem with the lousy Germans or other Antisemits. You actually have a conflict with your own God. You should gradually start to understand your own scriptures. Yet by the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible or Old Testament) it is possible to prove that every man needs a redeemer and that an Anointed One should come and get wiped out from the earth (Daniel).

    Addition:

    Through baptism we die for the sin and receive God's Spirit, which uses our actually sinful body as a tool for doing works of righteousness. Every day a Christian invites Christ or the Spirit, which has yet received at baptism, to rule his sinful body.

    In other words: The biological body of the Christian doesn't get delivered by baptism, it remains sinful (see Romans 7, where St. Paul describes his sinful past made of flesh and blood, his body). The Christian only appears holy, because the divine power, which he received at baptism, forces his sinful body to do works of righteousness and love.

    Gospel of Jesus Christ, Amen.

    April 14, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • sam stone

      Christianity is a man made religion. Ramen

      April 14, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • sam stone

      come on, rainy, come out and play

      April 14, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Rainer....you just by being German, are in no way responsible, nor need to apologize for the deprivations of your historic countrymen. Just as modern man is not tainted by the supposed "sins" of Adam and Eve. To be held accountable for the transgressions of others is reprehensible and immoral. That is one of the key foundational flaws of Abrahamic religions. One of misplaced guilt.

      April 14, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @sam stone

      Sounds like Goliath.

      April 14, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • sam stone

      Going to answer the question or not? Is your faith that weak?

      April 14, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Jim R

      as the late C. Hitchens would have said, nothing but "white noise" and nonsensical babel

      April 15, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  5. VERY TRUE!

    “A little philosophy makes a man an Atheist: a great deal converts him to religion”
    ― David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion

    April 14, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • isolate

      Being familiar with Hume's work, may I put that quote in context for you? At the conclusion of his book, Hume restated the question he proposed to himself in the beginning, answering that, if asked what God was, his reply would be "I didn’t know, and was sensible that this subject lay vastly beyond the reach of my facilities," and he expresses doubt that any human being can answer the question accurately and truthfully. He confesses that there is a possibility of the existence of an all-knowing, all- powerful Creator which is also loving and compassionate toward humans, but admits that the probability is vanishingly small.

      April 15, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  6. Mom of 4

    I was raised Catholic and was a devout one for many years. Teaching my children religious concepts and supernatural ideas brought to the forefront the nonsense of it all. Imparting these fantasies to my impressionable little ones, who trusted me to be telling them the truth, finally just got to be too much for my conscience. I had to stop it. How can anyone do this to little kids?

    (p.s. They are all adults now - fine upstanding citizens... compassionate and rational... non-believers)

    April 14, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • BillBones

      Well done. Break the cycle of nonsense.

      April 14, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Awesome...way to be part of the dawn of enlightenment.

      April 14, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Mom of 4

      Thanks, Bill.

      I must've been doing something right, because (and I was floored by this) 4 different couples, including 2 doctors and a judge, designated me (and my husband) in their Wills to raise their children if something happened to them. I'm glad that nothing happened to them, but, oh my, what an honor!

      April 14, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Mom of 4

      And thanks, AtheistSteve (I was typing when you posted).

      April 14, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      Well done Mom of 4. I believe, much like Dawkins and others, that religion forced on children is akin to child abuse. I never forced my two boys to go to church though I did allow them to go when they asked to go. Both of them are now believers, which is their choice as adults, but they fully understand my position on religions and we sometimes have some wonderful discussions on the subject, but I usually just get them confused because I know so much more about the Christian faith than they do because I have studied it from a secular point of view.

      April 14, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • JT

      Mom...good for you to not lie to and indoctrinate your children. Thank you for not abusing them into indoctrination into one of the death cults. I raised my two daughters telling them to ask questions and be skeptical which of course makes one an atheist. They are very adjusted young women today and I couldn't be more proud.

      April 14, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
    • Ira Radnick

      Right on! What a powerful example of helping break the yoke of mental anguish that otherwise would have been heaped on top of your kids. Excellent choice, Mom Of 4!

      April 15, 2012 at 7:47 am |
    • Carlos

      Slightly different experience: I grew up in an atheist home, great loving humanitarian parents and siblings. I became a believer as an adult, and am now a fervent Catholic (24yr old, near entering seminary to discern being a priest). I wish I had a faith growing up, not because I was unhappy, but because I love it now and wish I knew God growing up. The funny thing is that when I was an atheist, there was nothing anyone could have told me to become a theist. Now as a theist, there is nothing anyone can tell me that would make me become an atheist so I understand both sides and would be the last to condemn someone for not believing as I was incapable of doing so myself. I have all the greatest respect for my atheist friends and those remaining atheists in the family (most of us are Catholic now), though many think I’ve “dumbed down” or have gotten myself into this illogical fantasy world similar to farriers as Dawkins would describe it. As a biological anthropology major I’ve read Richard Dawkins (who I admire as an intellectual and work as a biologist) but the difference is I know see the natural world and life itself with a different lenses, not denying anything that science, reason and logic has to offer but only enhancing it with a different purpose. Why some people get faith and others done is beyond me… I guess I’ll know at the end of my life. Until then, we all, atheist or theist, need to work together to live our humanity in a respectful loving way. Lots of work to be done on both sides. If my vocation is marriage, I will have my children growing up with a faith, but will also teach them the views of the atheist as I once had so they can be tolerant all way around. If they, as adults, cannot conceptualize God, atleast they’ll kow who this God is that the Church teaches and not a variation of. Either way I will love them just as much.

      April 16, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  7. momoya

    @Rainer

    Saying "You err!" is about as effective as farting while you type..

    Theft is usually a bad idea because it's obvious that you wouldn't want someone to steal from you.. Intelligent people recognize that for a law to be just it must be equally applied.. If you don't want anyone killing you, and society recognizes that everybody feels this way, then they make a law against murder.. Morality isn't as complex as most people think it is.

    As to the rest of what you typed: It's not even coherent, much less a cogent logical structure that compels anybody to do anything.

    April 14, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @momoya

      You confirm my point.

      If yet society makes laws, which condem certain misbehaviours like theft, murder, fraud, etc., then we cannot blame God for making commandments.

      Laws are made to protect us from each other.

      The difference between society and God is that God offers us a Way to become people fullfilling the law.

      If we ask God, he give us his Spirit of love, which is not in conflict with any correct law in the universe.

      April 14, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • momoya

      Nobody is blaming god for making commandments.. I say that the god of the bible is STUPID for making STUPID commandments.. and once again, most of your post is gibberish.

      April 14, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • sam stone

      so, rainy, are you going to answer my question? or just continue with your biblical verbal diarrhea?

      April 14, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  8. Rainer Braendlein

    Sin is not a theoretical phrase, but a real malefactor (I know that malefactor is a person), which harms us or by which we harm each other and that is the opposite of love. We are sometimes malefactors.

    You err.

    What actually is sin?

    Let is us take only one example: theft (you shalst not steal!)

    If you steal the bicycle of someone, you really harm him and he feels a pain. Maybe he comes too late to his workplace, because of your theft. He loses his workplace. He can no longer care for his family ... .

    A theft is not only bad because of the loss of the certain object, but also because of its consequences, which can be very harsh and painful.

    Exactly this the Lord, the Eternal God, wants to avoid. When he says: "You shalst not steal!" he doesn't want to torture us, but to save us from each other.

    Sin is not a theoretical phrase, but a really bad thing, which disturbs mankind.

    Finally people will get punished by God, because they have tortured their fellow human beings.

    Isn't that righteous?

    April 14, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • krussell

      Actually that is quite shallow.
      You want to call hurting others 'sin', but your bible says it is okay to hurt some people by selling them as slaves. Buying slaves is okay too if you buy from the right people.
      The idea that it is wrong to steal is also not exclusive to christian teachings.

      April 14, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Sin doesn't exist. It's a complete fabrication rooted in your theology that represents "defiance of God's will". Thus to anyone who doesn't believe in the existence of your god, sin is an empty concept. Moral behavior formed out of our social conscience. Empathy allows us to place ourselves in someone else's shoes. So we know stealing is wrong because we wouldn't want our stuff stolen. What benefits the group sometimes outweighs what benefits the individual. The rules of right verses wrong behavior are self-evident and were around long before your 10 commandments. Even among social animals like chimps we observe simple moral behaviors.

      April 14, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • .

      Really, Stevie... we don't care what you do with your boyfriend.

      April 15, 2012 at 8:34 am |
  9. krussell

    Okay, here is a chance for you religios people to save a lost soul:
    Can you help me reconcile how the Bible as so many bad things in it?

    Selling your daughters into slavery is acceptable, for example.
    So is stoning children to death if they are disrespectful.

    How does a simpleton like me know what parts of the lord'sd word are okay to ignore, and what parts should we live by?

    April 14, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
  10. Rainer Braendlein

    @krusell

    Probably krusell is necrophilic (lover of death) like Heinrich Himmler, which had a table made of human bones and skin.

    Krussell, you err mightyly.

    There is indeed a god, which promotes death, but this is the god of darkness.

    The God of light promotes life.

    Your error, krusell, results from the fact that the god of darkness is still allowed to rule on earth for a very little time and you think that the rule of the god of darkness would be the rule of the God of Light.

    You err!

    April 14, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • krussell

      I'm a lover of death because I know i'm mortal?
      Your deductive reasong skills need some work.

      April 14, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • johnfrichardson

      Rainer, it seems like you aren't even trying to understand anyone else.

      April 14, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • Hypatia

      To John Richardson: he's not. he's just spewing his Sunday School lessons randomly.

      April 14, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • jim86

      Damn now there are two gods. One of light and another one of darkness. What's his stance on issues?

      April 16, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  11. momoya

    It's so funny thta athiesets are so dumb they can't even try to without anyr eason of bien mad about GOD so if thier idiats u no y!!!!!

    April 14, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • momoya

      Hahahaha we've got a 3rd momoya now? This is getting confusinggggg

      April 14, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • momoya

      Keep lying for your jesus, fake momoya!! He's so proud of you right now.

      April 14, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Tomorrow his parents will take him to church, where he'll spend his time playing with his matchbox cars.

      April 14, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • bhigh

      Was that supposed to make sense somehow? Funny that someone calling other people "dumb" makes such an illiterate post.

      April 14, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
  12. bhigh

    Yes, it's great, isn't it? Sleeping in on Sundays, spending my money on myself instead of some priestpervs legal defense fund or a pastor's fondness for hoookers and blow...

    April 14, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Sorry

      Your vision of church and Christ are completely skewed, sorry.

      April 14, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • sam stone

      sorry: where did bhigh comment on christ?

      April 14, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • OmniVI

      There was never a mention of Christ...oh wait that's the only religion in the world right?

      April 15, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  13. Leeroy

    To all atheists,

    What do you think of Bill Maher? Do you like/support him or do you think hes a pompous prlck who relishes in his own (false) greatness?

    April 14, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • momoya

      He's a "pompous pr!ck who relishes [in] his false greatness" that I like and support much of the time..

      April 14, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • Leeroy

      Momoya,

      How do I know you're the real one and not the fake one? Please post your credentials so I can confirm.

      April 14, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • momoya

      Leeroy, don't be a moron..

      April 14, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • Leeroy

      Momoya,

      Was that last comment the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd momoya? Please post credentials so I can confirm.

      April 14, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • momoya

      Ah, Leeroy, I see that you ARE a moron and just can't help it.. (Were you the slightest bit intelligent, you'd not be asking me for "credentials.". Perhaps YOU are the fake momoya.. How is your behavior on this board glorifying your god?

      April 14, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • johnfrichardson

      I'm not fond of Maher at all.

      April 14, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • Hypatia

      I think Leeroy should stop drinking beer for breakfast.

      April 14, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Or maybe he should drink more.....

      April 14, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • sam stone

      i think both

      April 14, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Bill Maher is awesome and his film "Religulous" exposes the absolute lunacy of Christianity and Judaism. I never miss an episode of Real Time where he regularly "puts it" to those who can't seem to escape "the Bubble".

      April 14, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • bhigh

      Loaded question much LeeROy?
      Regarding Bill Maher: There are choices other than supporting him or thinking that he is a pompous pr*ck. I don't agree with some of his ideas but he is very intelligent and stands behind his opinions. "Religilous" was genius.

      April 14, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
  14. krussell

    All humans are born with a fatal disease. It is called 'Life'.
    Religion is for those who will try anything to find a cure.

    April 14, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • momoya

      Quite possibly the most ldiotic thing ive ever heard

      April 14, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • momoya

      Are you going to at least think about my question, fake momoya?

      April 14, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @momoya

      Probably krusell is necrophilic (lover of death) like Heinrich Himmler, which had a table made of human bones and skin.

      Krussell, you err mightyly.

      There is indeed a god, which promotes death, but this is the god of darkness.

      The God of light promotes life.

      Your error, krusell, results from the fact that the god of darkness is still allowed to rule on earth for a very little time and you think that the rule of the god of darkness would be the rule of the God of Light.

      You err!

      April 14, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • momoya

      Rainer, how can your god possibly like life if every living thing on the earth feeds on death or causes death in order to stay alive?. God commanded billions of blood sacrifices around the same time that blood sacrifice was a hot new idea across the globe.. God commanded the death and blood of his son in order to appease himself by sacrificing himself to himself–otherwise he'd have to torture you forever in the never ending torture pit that he built and sustains..

      Your god is disgustingly evil, and the only life he likes is his own–according to the bible, anyway.

      April 14, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • krussell

      I seem to have used too many big words in my last post. Please let me try again.
      We are all going to die. There is no heaven or hell. Your god is just another myth in a long line of myths.
      Odin was a myth. Zues was a myth. The flying spaghetti monster is a joke. Jesus Christ is a myth that his rabid followers have turned into a joke.

      April 14, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @momoya

      You err.

      What actually is sin?

      Let is us take only one example: theft (you shalst not steal!)

      If you steal the bicycle of someone, you really harm him and he feels a pain. Maybe he comes too late to his workplace, because of your theft. He loses his workplace. He can no longer care for his family ... .

      A theft is not only bad because of the loss of the certain object, but also because of its consequences, which can be very harsh and painful.

      Exactly this the Lord, the Eternal God, wants to avoid. When he says: "You shalst not steal!" he doesn't want to torture us, but to save us from each other.

      Sin is not a theoretical phrase, but a really bad thing, which disturbs mankind.

      Finally people will get punished by God, because they have tortured their fellow human beings.

      Isn't that righteous?

      April 14, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
  15. momoya

    For fake momoya:

    How is your behavior on this board glorifying to your god?

    April 14, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Leeroy

      Is this addressed to the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd momoya? Please post which one you are then which one youre addressing. Credentials would be nice to help sepmarate you 3.

      April 14, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Is this REALLY Leeroy? Post your credentials so we can sepmarate you from the other trolls.

      April 14, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • Leeroy

      Tom,

      Ill post my credentials but id first like to make sure youre the real Tom and not the fake one. Please post credentials so i can confirm.

      April 14, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Then you'll be waiting a long time. Almost as long as I've been waiting for you to grow a brain.

      April 14, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  16. Rainer Braendlein

    Dear atheist, you are invited to join God's Passover Lamb Jesus Christ.

    Leave Mammon and join Christ right now!

    April 14, 2012 at 11:49 am |
  17. Rainer Braendlein

    All manmade religions have proved, prove and will ever prove that man is sinful. However, dear Jew, Muslim, Anabaptist, Catholic and the like it is still a time of GRACE. Join God's Passover Lamb Jesus Christ right now and get released by Christ.

    Premise:

    As I am a German I first want to apologize for all the crimes we (the Germans) have committed against the Jews. I regret deeply.

    The blood of the people, which have committed these crimes flows in my veins. I only can continue to live, because God gave his precious Passover Lamb for me. Even the worst people on earth can get saved by God's Lamb.

    Actual comment:

    The Jewish prophet John the Baptist once said:

    29 The next day John seeth Jesus (a Jewish carpenter) coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. 30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. 31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. 32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. 33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.

    Jesus and John the Baptist fullfilled Ezekiel 36: 24-28:

    24 For I will take you (Israel) from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. 25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them . 28 And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.

    Dear Jew, Catholic, Anabaptist, Muslim, Mormon, etc. join God's Passover Lamb Jesus Christ and he will purify you perfectly.

    The gospel: God, the Father, delivered God, the Son (God's Lamb), for our sins and raised him from the dead for our justification.

    Simply believe that and get baptized (or remember your infant baptism, if you are yet baptized). At baptism your dirty, impure old man of sin dies (you die for the sin) and you resurrect to a new life in Christ. Your heart gets circu-mcised and you receive Jahve's Spirit. It is not only that God forgives you, but he also makes you a new creature (rebirth by Water and Spirit), which is able to live a life of divine love. By the love of the Spirit of God you fullfill the law of the Torah. If The Divine Legislator lives in you, how shall you break the law anymore?

    Dear Jews, God gave you the law of the Torah, so that you might realize your sinfulness and that you need a redeemer. When at last will you accept the saviour, which the God of Israel has sent to you?

    Dear Jews, you actually don't have a problem with the lousy Germans or other Antisemits. You actually have a conflict with your own God. You should gradually start to understand your own scriptures. Yet by the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible or Old Testament) it is possible to prove that every man needs a redeemer and that an Anointed One should come and get wiped out from the earth (Daniel).

    Addition:

    Through baptism we die for the sin and receive God's Spirit, which uses our actually sinful body as a tool for doing works of righteousness. Every day a Christian invites Christ or the Spirit, which has yet received at baptism, to rule his sinful body.

    In other words: The biological body of the Christian doesn't get delivered by baptism, it remains sinful (see Romans 7, where St. Paul describes his sinful past made of flesh and blood, his body). The Christian only appears holy, because the divine power, which he received at baptism, forces his sinful body to do works of righteousness and love.

    Gospel of Jesus Christ, Amen.

    April 14, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • Sam Stone

      Rainy: You remain a bigot and a coward.

      April 15, 2012 at 6:50 am |
    • Big Man

      "I first want to apologize for all the crimes"
      You are honorable person Rainer, as were your German ancestors. But there is no need to apologize to jews – do you think that jews would apologize for crimes committed against others....murder of millions of Christians in the name of Russian Bolsv. or current abhorrent treatment of Palestinians? They wouldn't.

      April 15, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  18. Aguest9

    Atheists are def the smartest. All others are simply indoctrinated. I got tired of that garbage which is exactly why i dropped out of high school. I didnt need it then and dont need it now!! I make $12/hr and make way more than i wouldve had i gone to college. Eat that all you theists!!

    April 14, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Sure you do. Too bad about that lobotomy you had.

      April 14, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • krussell

      Trolls are not what they used to be.

      April 14, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      This one is particularly dull.

      April 14, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • AGuest9

      But, you just boosted your IQ by 100 points just by CLAIMING to be me.

      April 14, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  19. William Demuth

    To all atheists,

    Go f.,uck urself you sad pathetic shlts.

    April 14, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • momoya

      Sounds like the words of a christian to me.

      April 14, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • krussell

      People like you are why I started to question my religion in the first place. I was in 2nd grade.
      What i'm trying to say is : Thank You.

      April 14, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      @momo: Yeah, a christian, and a jealous one at that.

      April 14, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Krussel,

      Your intelligence is automatically discounted after your comment about life being a diseae. What Im trying to say is: Youre dumb

      April 14, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What kind of discount are you giving, troll? Ten percent off? Twenty?

      April 14, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Tom,

      Please look up alternate definitions of the word discount. What a clueless clown you are.

      April 14, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I knew you'd take the bait. Good going, troll.

      April 14, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • krussell

      We should all be more careful in responding to William Demuth.
      The truth can hurt and he seems to be very fragile today.

      April 14, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Nah, he's a little kid. That last post is telling-he missed the sarcasm entirely.

      @ BillyDemouth: that was the whooshing sound you heard overhead. I guess your farting made it difficult to interpret.

      April 14, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Tom tom the p00pers son,

      How do you feel being an adult and arguing with a 12 year old? Id guess pretty f.,uckin dumb, hahah

      April 14, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Not as dumb as you look trying to impersonate an adult.

      April 14, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • Ira Radnick

      I suppose you would lump me into your misunderstanding of what an atheist is. So were I to tell you I consider myself to be agnostic you may be confused by what that means. In sort (outside its formal definition), it means I am free of the dribble you seem to accept as truth, then find it appropriate to curse others who do not believe as you do. Thank goodness you are a powerless tool babbling crud simply because you can't formulate a clear thought or two.

      April 15, 2012 at 7:53 am |
  20. William Demuth

    To all atheists;

    Go f..uck yourself.

    April 14, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • TheRationale

      How Christian of you

      April 14, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • Hypatia

      A Christian response if I've ever heard one. Thank you for making your kindness and compassion for others so evident.

      April 14, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.